THE AOL-TIME WARNER BLACK HOLE

Last week, AOL Time Warner announced that it was writing off $54 billion of its net worth as being completely unsaleable and without any value whatsoever. This embarrassing loss is in addition to the nosediving stock price for the last fifteen months, during which the value of the company has dropped sixty percent. […] continued

Read more

HOW ORACLE SCREWED CALIFORNIA

It’s either sad or amusing to read how Oracle suckered the state of California into buying millions of dollars of software and licenses that the state didn’t need, covering more people than the state actually employs. The papers have caught the highlights, but The Register adds a couple of extra juicy details. […] continued

Read more

PRIVACY: BANKS vs. MICROSOFT & AOL

A recent study discovered that almost half of you would trust banks to handle online wallets, but most people would not trust Microsoft or AOL to hold the same financial information.

David Coursey’s column today takes a position that I find convincing – that it’s far, far safer to trust Microsoft & AOL with your confidential information than it is to trust banks and financial institutions. […] continued

Read more

CITIZENS FOR A MURDER-FREE AMERICA

Any Philip Dick fans out there? Take a look at Precrime, the web headquarters of Citizens for a Murder-Free America. Precrime proposes using a revolutionary new technology called previsualization that allows police detectives to witness, verify, and halt murders before they occur.

It’s just for fun, of course. It’s part of the marketing for Minority Report, the summer movie by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise, based on a Philip Dick story. […] continued

Read more

KLEZ VIRUS

There’s yet another e-mail virus running around loose, the “Klez” worm. It’s finding a lot of unprotected systems, and causing the usual problems. Here’s an article about the virus. As always, think to yourself: are you running antivirus software? Do you update it at least once every two weeks? If not, you’re endangering your own computer and everyone in your address book. […] continued

Read more

WEB SITE HIJACKING

If you own a domain name, make sure its registration doesn’t expire accidentally!

The number of domain names being allowed to expire–intentionally or accidentally–is at an all-time high. Shady companies called “traffic aggregators” have developed software that checks the status of names that are about to expire, and acquires them the moment they’re available. […] continued

Read more

SEGWAY

I feel like I missed something obvious. Maybe you already knew this.

Remember the Segway scooter created by Dean Kamen and announced in December? Battery-powered, using computers and gyroscopes to make it almost impossible to tip over. Kamen has a wheelchair going through final FDA tests that uses some of the same technology to make it impossibly stable. […] continued

Read more

DATAPLAY – THE NEXT BIG THING (not)

Miniature CDs will hit the market this summer, presumably with a heavy advertising blitz. The “Dataplay” discs look like CDs that are one inch across and come in a small plastic cartridge. They can store up to five albums, plus a bunch of computer data, which is pretty impressive.

Sound appealing? […] continued

Read more

PRIVACY INVASIONS AND THE PATRIOT ACT

According to this story, the Patriot Act (passed last October) has produced results that might take you by surprise. The Patriot Act gave law enforcement officials expanded authority to subpoena information without a court order. The result is that the telecommunications industry and Internet service providers face an escalating barrage of subpoenas for subscriber lists, personal credit reports, financial information, routing patterns that reveal individual computer use, even customer photographs. […] continued

Read more

WILCO AND THE FUTURE OF MUSIC

Wilco’s new album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, will be released next week. And if you buy it, you might help improve the future of recorded music.

Wilco is one of the few great bands that have emerged in the last ten years. Their first few recordings helped shape the “alt-country” genre, but in 1999 the band released Summerteeth, a genuine masterpiece – pop gems that had echoes of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Van Morrison, and many others, but spun into a sound that was distinctive and new. […] continued

Read more

COSTCO DEALS

Some good deals at Costco right now.

A stack of 100 blank TDK CDRs is $29.99 at the register, and there’s a $20 rebate from Costco. (Unlike other rebates, Costco processes rebate forms quickly and actually mails the checks.) Ten bucks for a hundred blank CDRs! Incidentally, don’t be confused – these are labeled “Data CDRs,” but they are perfectly good for music CDs as well. […] continued

Read more

TRAVEL WEB SITE SHENANIGANS

I had to chuckle (to avoid crying) reading this article about the squabbles between Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia. At first, you’ll be sympathetic to the claims that Orbitz is competing unfairly by obtaining lower prices from its airline owners than are available to Travelocity and Expedia. But keep reading, and it becomes obvious that all three are would-be monopolists who have no interest in consumers, except to figure out the most effective ways to pick our pockets. […] continued

Read more

RECORDABLE DVDS

Most consumers have stayed away from recordable DVDs, since there’s a blizzard of competing acronyms representing different, incompatible media and disk formats. DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-RAM – it’s a mess, and it’s long overdue for one of the formats to emerge as the market leader. Only then will new devices flood the market and prices come down. […] continued

Read more

KAZAA SPYWARE

Kazaa is one of the popular file sharing programs that took over after Napster was gunned down. It had always had a reputation for installing “spyware” – nasty little programs that monitored your web surfing and downloads and reported back to somewhere without your permission. But recently folks learned about a bigger invasion of your privacy. […] continued

Read more

TIME WARNER HELL

Two announcements from Time Warner today that should strike fear into your heart, as we move into a future controlled by corporations and inundated by advertising.

America Online plans to increase the intensity of advertising on AOL and Time Warner web sites. (You thought it was bad already? Chuckle. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.) Later this year, it will increase its reliance on “rich media advertisements” – video, audio, animation and 3D effects that can cause little race cars to break free from their pop-up windows and race around the screen or whatever else the marketing geniuses come up with. […] continued

Read more